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Specialty Box Office: ‘The Act Of Killing’ Is Year’s Top Documentary Debut; ‘Only God Forgives’ And ‘Girl Most Likely’ Open Mixed

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor

UPDATED: Documentaries lead the way with sizzling debuts among the Specialties over the weekend.  Drafthouse Films clearly won bragging rights with critically lauded Danish-produced feature The Act Of Killing. The film re-tells the story of the little-known massacre of leftists and perceived leftists in Indonesia in the 1960s and ’70s through Hollywood-style re-enactments of the crimes by the killers themselves. It opened at downtown Manhattan’s Sunshine theater, grossing $28,067. Though only one venue, the bow nevertheless gives the title reason to boast — placing it atop all other documentary debuts in 2013 including the likes of 56 Up ($22,088 per screen average), The Gatekeepers ($20,517 PSA), 20 Feet From Stardom ($18,199 PSA), Koch ($17,598 PSA) and Stories We Tell ($13,527 PSA). Also opening with some gusto this weekend was Magnolia’s Blackfish. The fellow Sundance docu opened in four theaters, grossing $66,500 for a $16,625 PSA, placing it in the middle of the year’s top non-fiction openers. The weekend’s big narrative debuts, Only God Forgives and Girl Most Likely, meanwhile, skirted the traditional platform strategy and headed into a number of markets. Cannes debut Forgives, starring Ryan Gosling, headed with a mix of critical response into 78 theaters, grossing a so-so $315K for a $4,039 average (though the film is No. 2 on iTunes this weekend). Meanwhile, Roadside/Lionsgate’s Girl Most Likely with Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening and Matt Dillon had the largest Specialty bow of the summer with its 353 locations, grossing $736K for a soft $2,085 PSA. Read More »

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Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Only God Forgives’, ‘Girl Most Likely’, ‘Blackfish’, ‘The Act Of Killing’, ‘The Rooftop’

By | Thursday July 18, 2013 @ 6:48pm PDT

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

Roadside/Lionsgate’s Girl Most Likely and RADiUS-TWC’s Only God Forgives will be among this summer’s largest weekend rollouts among the Specialties. Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening, Matt Dillon and Darren Criss starrer Girl Most Likely will continue Roadside’s strategy of opening indies with named actors in theaters numbering in the hundreds in order to capitalize on media attention, a move they have had success with earlier this year. Two docs from Magnolia Pictures and Drafthouse Films join the Specialty newcomers, with Blackfish facing push-back from SeaWorld about its doc spotlighting marine animals in captivity. The Act Of Killing, meanwhile, received a heap of praise in its festival run and has the likes of Werner Herzog and Errol Morris backing up the film, which takes a unique twist on the non-fiction form. And Well Go USA is targeting the Chinese-American community with its Jay Chou Taiwanese feature, The Rooftop.

Only God Forgives
Director-writer: Nicolas Winding Refn
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm, Gordon Brown, Tom Burke
Distributor: RADiUS-TWC

Producer Lene Borglum founded production company Space Rocket Nation with Nicolas Winding Refn following their successful collaboration on Valhalla Rising in 2009 and was naturally on board Only God Forgives from the beginning. The Cannes premiere divided audiences, but made quite an impression at its world premiere. The film revolves around a Bangkok drug smuggler whose life is complicated when his mother compels him to find and kill whoever is responsible for his brother’s recent death. “I really like the visual style and universe of Nicolas Winding Refn,” said Borglum. “It’s unique and innovative. I am also very attracted to the psychological layers of the film and the way of working with the different layers, as well as his way of working with sound and music rather than explaining everything in dialogue.” Initially, the plan had been to go with an up and coming U.K. talent due to the project’s low budget, casting British actor Luke Evans who later dropped out to appear in The Hobbit. At the time, Refn had been given the Best Director Award at Cannes for Drive, which starred Ryan Gosling, who stepped in to star. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Only God Forgives’

By | Friday June 14, 2013 @ 8:40pm PDT

They killed his brother. But “it’s a little more complicated than that.” A month after it screened in Competition at Cannes, Only God Forgives has a new trailer out today. Writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn reteams with his Drive star Ryan Gosling for the violent tale of a drug-running family’s thirst for revenge against some Bangkok baddies. Kristin Scott Thomas and Vithaya Pansringarm also star in the pic, which hits July 19 via Radius/The Weinstein Company:

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Cannes: Competition Movies Divide Critics; How Much Do Reviews Really Matter?

Whichever way the mistral wind blows on Sunday when Steven Spielberg’s jury hands out its awards, it’s fair to say that, for critics, the Competition has been divisive. While a number of films received huzzahs in the Palais, several met with mixed reactions. Among the best received were the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, Steven Soderbergh’s Behind The Candelabra, Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty, Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s Like Father Like Son, and Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue Is The Warmest Color. Among the not so hot were Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives and Takashi Miike’s Shield Of Straw, both of which were subject to boos during press screenings. And, yet, each has its supporters. Read More »

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Hammond On Cannes: A New Day Comes To The Fest As HBO and VOD Movies Compete For Palme d’Or

Pete Hammond

An HBO film? A VOD movie? Competing for the Palme d’Or, all seriously in one of the last bastions of pure cinema, the Cannes Film Festival‘s main competition? Oui!

With HBO’s Behind The Candelabra and Radius-TWC‘s Ryan Gosling-starrer Only God Forgives from Cannes darling Nicolas Winding Refn, a new day — and date — has dawned here. And in all these cases, huge movie stars who might not have considered anything but a traditional theatrical release and all the trimmings that go with that are suddenly here with projects that — while also possibly traveling the theatrical route, too — will simultaneously, or even first, be seen on smaller screens. This might have been considered sacreligious in the Cannes of old, but in this ever-changing film industry it’s the way of the future, at least partially.

HBO made a big splash Tuesday night with its extremely well-received Steven Soderbergh-directed movie Behind The Candelabra, the story of a very closeted Liberace and his relationship with a young man that has become one of the best-reviewed films here. Its Oscar-winning stars Michael Douglas and Matt Damon hit the Palais Grand Theatre’s red carpet, won raves and immediate awards talk here, even though one person said of the film’s Palme d’Or chances, “I can’t imagine Cannes giving an award to an HBO movie”. Really? Well, who could have imagined Cannes, a few years ago, actually embracing HBO and letting it compete at the big table which is exactly what Candelabra is doing. Many observers here think Douglas is in fact the frontrunner for the Best Actor prize for his uncanny portrayal of the uber-flamboyant Liberace. I would go as far to say that Douglas and Damon, who plays his young lover Scott Thorson (the man who wrote the expose upon which the film is based), would easily have been nominated for Oscars had this gone theatrical instead of cable in America (it will be in theaters internationally). Instead the film, which HBO begins airing Sunday in the U.S., and its stars will just have to settle for sweeping the Emmys, as it most likely will do. That it also represents what Steven Soderbergh says is his final film for the foreseeable future could actually increase his Palme d’Or chances in my view, perhaps as a message that he shouldn’t quit so soon. How ironic that no major studio or distributor wanted the film when it was initially pitched. But HBO jumped at the chance. Douglas for one is extremely grateful. He even had to hold back tears and got very choked up trying to thank his colleagues during the Cannes press conference yesterday for waiting for him while he underwent his cancer treatments.

So as their movie hits TV screens in America, could Soderbergh or his film be winning a prize in Cannes the same day? Stranger things have happened, but that would be a first. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Only God Forgives’

By | Thursday April 18, 2013 @ 7:05pm PDT

The second trailer for Nicolas Winding-Refn’s Only God Forgives dropped today, just hours after the film made the Cannes competition roster. The Bangkok-set crime pic stars Ryan Gosling as the scion of a drug-smuggling family who runs a Thai boxing club and is sent on a quest for vengeance by his mother (Kristin Scott Thomas). Check it out:

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Hot Trailer: ‘Only God Forgives’ Red Band

By | Wednesday April 3, 2013 @ 3:38pm PDT

Ryan Gosling reteams with Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn in the Bangkok-set crime pic, which RADiUS-TWC will release July 19. Gosling plays the scion of a drug-smuggling family who runs a Thai boxing club and is sent on a quest for vengeance by his mother (Kristin Scott Thomas). Here’s the newly unveiled red band trailer:

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Cannes Surprise Screening: Change Of Plans On Juan Antonio Bayona’s ‘The Impossible’

Only God Forgives CannesI’ve learned more about the special screening addition to the Cannes Film Festival that I wrote about a few days ago. Just today, the team behind Juan Antonio Bayona’s The Impossible decided to pull out. The reason as I understand it is they were keen not to be lumped in with the program of footage and promo reels and preferred to do a stand-alone presentation further down the line. I’ve also heard the seven minutes of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained that The Weinstein Co screened for select invitees a few evenings ago will not be involved. However, footage from Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmasters was confirmed to me, along with scenes from Nicolas Winding Refn’s reteam with Ryan Gosling, Only God Forgives.

Related: Cannes Planning Surprise Screening Of Non-Fest Films; What’s On The List?

There was no official widespread announcement from the festival regarding this special séance, and no official list of the films that will be included in the clip reel. However, there are signs dotting the Palais now saying the first-come, first-served screening is tonight at 10:30 PM in the Salle du Soixantième. I understand Cannes chief Thierry Frémaux put this together to allow accredited festgoers a chance to see footage many buyers may have already seen in the market. And I hear there will be scenes from a surprise film at the end of the reel.

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Weinstein Co’s Radius In Talks For Ryan Gosling-Nic Refn Pic ‘Only God Forgives’

By | Wednesday February 29, 2012 @ 2:31pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Radius-TWC, the upstart distribution company that The Weinstein Company started with Tom Quinn and Jason Janego at the helm, is in negotiations to acquire U.S. distribution rights to Only God Forgives, the re-team of Drive helmer Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling that is getting underway in Thailand. I’m hearing that the negotiation is in the range of a $2.5 million minimum guarantee.

It is the second recent deal that Quinn and Janego made that involved Refn, after Radius acquired a remake of Pusher, the first film that Refn directed. Only God Forgives was a surprise entry in the marketplace. It was all but acquired last summer by Drive distributor FilmDistrict, but the deal never closed. The distributor didn’t see eye to eye with the filmmakers, and it once again became available. CBS Films, which just turned the acquisition The Woman In Black into a hit, was among the other suitors, I’ve heard.

Radius’s multi-platform strategy seems ideal for this picture, a hard R drama which has way more explosive violence than Drive. Gosling plays the son of a Florida-based crime syndicate boss (Kristen Scott Thomas), who is plying the drug trade in Thailand with his brother. When his addicted sibling gets involved in a murder and gets tangled up with a cop who calls himself the Angel of Vengeance, Gosling’s character, who is proficient in mixed martial arts, … Read More »

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